With PR gaining scope in the addition of social media as relational tools, what's the role of PR staffers in this new communication setting? Should they be ghostwriting tweets? No, but understanding the new media and advising on their heft is a key function. It's being personified in the emerging role of chief listening officer, or titles to that effect.
Don Jennings writes about the new role in the Beyond the Hype blog. "There is a new sheriff, or perhaps deputy in town," Jennings advises, "and they're wearing the badge of Chief Listening Officer or some other Listening title in the communications and marketing departments of companies worldwide. ...
"It's good to see this role taking on more structured aspects, as it's critically important to communications. Being on the outside means that agencies understand what's REALLY being said, using that insight to shape and refine more meaningful engagements with key constituencies, be they customers, prospects, partners, competitors, media and analysts. It's an invaluable perspective."
Jennings notes that Irina Slutsky discussed the listening role in a recent post.
"In a world where marketing managers are eager to get their perspective across, the idea of hearing the consumer is often more foreign than it should be," she notes. A couple of incumbent CLOs describe what the position involves.
Since all effective communication starts with listening, it's not surprising that this skill is being appreciated in the context of social media. Little else matters there beyond how an individual or business is perceived, and that's based on how well they interact with other members of a given social media community. So listen well, and keep your colleagues informed of what you're hearing out there.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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